Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Thomas D. Homan has indicated that he will deploy thousands of additional immigration agents to detain and deport undocumented immigrants residing in jurisdictions that do not fully cooperate with the agency, also known as "sanctuary cities."
On July 18, Homan stated in an interview that the Trump administration had enabled his agency to enforce immigration law to the fullest extent. In the acting director's view, President Donald Trump's approach to immigration has been effective.
"You can like President Trump, not like him, like his policies, but one thing no one can argue with if the effect they've had," Homan told the Washington Examiner.
The ICE acting director referred to the fact that, since Trump assumed office, illegal border crossings had slowed by roughly 70 percent, arrests of undocumented immigrants had risen by roughly 40 percent, and his agents' requests for jailed undocumented immigrants had surged by 80 percent.
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"You'd think everybody would be celebrating these policies," Homan added.
During former President Barack Obama's tenure, ICE deported roughly 2.7 million undocumented immigrants. While Obama deported more immigrants than any previous president, he also installed policies that called on ICE agents to prioritize undocumented immigrants apprehended at the border or who committed felonies or multiple misdemeanors.
Trump has expanded the criteria for priority deportation to virtually every undocumented immigrant living in the U.S. On Feb. 21, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations director Matthew Albence circulated a memo ordering his agents to apprehend every undocumented immigrant they encountered, ProPublica reports.
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"Effective immediately, ERO officers will take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties," Albence wrote.
"What this president has done is taken the handcuffs off of law enforcement officers who are charged with enforcing immigration laws," Homan continued.
The policy changes have been reflected in ICE arrests. Between, Jan. 22 and April 29, immigration agents detained 10,845 undocumented people who had committed no prior criminal offenses other than their immigration status, roughly triple the amount arrested in 2016, according to Newsweek.
Homan has set his sights on sanctuary cities, the jurisdictions with policies that discourage local law enforcement from turning over undocumented immigrants to ICE agents. The acting director asserted "In the America I grew up in, cities didn't shield people who violated the law."
Homan revealed that the Trump administration had granted his requested to hire 10,000 new ICE agents and deploy them specifically to sanctuary cities. The acting director stated that if local governments want to protect an arrested undocumented immigrant, his agents would just sweep through the community.
"I'm going to arrest him and anybody else with him because there is no population off the table any more," Homan said. "So if you really want to tap down the fear in the immigrant community, I would think the counties would want me in their jails."
Immigration advocates have argued that sanctuary policies help local law enforcement build trust with their immigrant community to better curb crime. Several have also expressed concern that current ICE enforcement will lead to overreach and abuse.
Matthew Archambeault, a lawyer who represents undocumented immigrants, believes that the Trump administration's immigration policies have "played into [ICE officers'] worst instincts."
In Archambeault's view, Homan "wants everyone to be afraid and that policy and mindset trickles down through the ranks to the lower-level officers. The real difference between Obama and Trump is tone and attitude. There is no one in the executive checking on what ICE officers are doing."